Caduceus

While the above image implies that meditation is required to access your inner physician, it’s not. All that’s required is for you to interview personifications of your health problems. To test the results, follow some of the recommendations they make and see what happens.

Can such a simple process work? Integral Deep Listening, which is the name for that process, is no cure-all. It cannot, nor should it, take the place of medical consultations or your own common sense. However, when combined with both, it can not only prevent physical problems but can keep those that are already present from getting worse.

The following is an example of using IDL with two very real health problems: chronic pain secondary to a slipped lumbar disk and heart arrhythmia – an irregular heart beat, with the heart sometimes speeding up and sometimes slowing down in irregular, unnatural ways.  The actual interview is preceded by a summary and followed by some amplifying comments.

Margaret had been to a number of medical specialists for treatment of her slipped lumbar disk. They recommended back surgery. She did not want surgery and sought out a number of alternative health practitioners in attempts to manage the condition without surgery. While she was been successful, in that she continued to live a normally active life, she was challenged with chronic lower back pain that flared up regularly. In addition, she experienced heart arrhythmia for a number of years. As is often the case, the feeling of this irregularity itself became a source of anxiety that made it worse. What to do?

IDL first had Margaret identify three important life issues. These are use to increase the relevance of the interview. Margaret’s major concern was the rhythm of her heart, which brought up feelings of anxiety, fear, and discomfort. These feelings were associated with the color red and a candle. When the candle was interviewed it said,

“I am in a white room, alone, on a tile floor.  It is terrible because it is sterile, lonely, and without life.” The candle likes that it can bring light when it is lit, but at the moment it is not. It dislikes that it is dry. It says that it personifies Margaret’s strictness against herself.

If it could change it would like to be lit and to burn. It wants to be thicker, with wax running down, stand ingwith other candles on an Advent wreath. If this were the case it would not be so dry but instead soft and smooth, creating warmth comfort, shining, with beautiful smells….There is now life where there was none before.

If such changes occurred the candle would score itself a ten in wisdom, acceptance, and inner peace and a nine in confidence, compassion, and witnessing. On a scale of zero to ten, it would score itself a ten in wisdom because “It’s exactly the right place for me! It’s very calm, relaxed, happy…” It would score itself a ten in acceptance because it can accept how it was before. It scores itself a ten in inner peace because “It feels so good to have this light, the warmth, the smells…everything is alright!”

The candle says that Margaret feels the way that the unlit, lonely candle does when she is afraid, because “she doesn’t know what she can do. It’s as if she is frozen.” She forgets about the lit candle “when the pain is there or her heart is out of rhythm or she feels alone with it all. She doesn’t stand with me. She gets frozen, like the first candle. Every time it’s like a shock. She gets shocked. ” It takes a fear of  five or six out of ten for Margaret to forget about the lit candle. Some deep breaths will help her reconnect and remember. “She knows that I’m there but she can’t feel me!”

“When Margaret feels really anxious, “it feels as if she moves. She leaves the room where I am with the Advent wreath and goes into the room with no one and a rigid, unlit candle. It’s a bad idea! The pain comes and goes; the heart’s rhythm comes and goes; it is not a drama until she gets scared and she forgets about being me. It takes a while for her to stop being the dry, unlit candle and become me again. She goes there because it’s an old pattern. She scares herself and allows her fear to take her away from me and the good feelings I bring.”

“It would help her if she stayed more calm and relaxed. Her life would be less jagged and choppy and have much more flow and lightness if I were in charge of it. She wouldn’t be tense! There would be no back pain! There would be no wrong heart rhythm!” They would go away if she were not tense and remembered to be the lit candle.

It also recommended that Margaret “go swimming in warm water regularly; at least once a week.” She is to remember it when she feels scared! “She needs to walk for half an hour every day. It helps her to find her right rhythm! It’s important not to go with walking sticks, but just to walk. Keep things simple, like I am! I would stand where I am and see what comes. If I like it, I do it; if I don’t like it, I don’t do it.”

Regarding Margaret’s life issues it recommends that she of focus on being and feeling comfortable.

In what life situations would it be most beneficial for Margaret to imagine that she is you and act as you would? 

When she feels tense or anxious!

What if Margaret asks herself every half an hour how tense/afraid she is 0 – 10? If she is over 4, then to become you?

I think it’s very important! She doesn’t realize when she gets tense!

Candle, do you do drama?  If not, why not?

No! Why should I?

What is your secret for staying out of drama?

To be myself!

Candle, you are imaginary. Why should Margaret pay attention to anything you say?

I can give to her what she wants!

Why do you think that you are in Margaret’s life? 

It’s just before Christmas! It’s the right time of year for a candle!  I bring light in the darkness of winter!

How is Margaret most likely to ignore what you are saying to her?

To forget to ask herself how she scores, zero to ten in how anxious or afraid or tense she is!

What would you recommend that she do about that?

She needs to remember!

What if she set the timer on her mobile phone to go off every thirty minutes with a unique ring to remind her to ask herself how she scores zero to ten? 

It’s a very good idea! With a special sound!

Thank you,  Candle, And now  a question for Margaret:

If this experience were a wake-up call from your inner compass, what do you think it would be saying to you?

Shine! It will make me relaxed and calm.  Then the tension, pain, and heart irregularity will decrease.

Notice that Margaret was also encouraged to swim at least once a week in warm water and to take a walk every day for at least half an hour. These are simple recommendations that can’t hurt. Becoming a candle in an Advent wreath can’t hurt! While none of this may seem as if it will work, IDL asks you to suspend your disbelief and trust yourself. There is no problem in your life that you cannot make better by accessing your inner compass and following its recommendations. And it’s fun!

In Margaret’s interview, her anxiety about her health conditions spontaneously personified as a dry, thin, unlit red candle in a vacant room. It represented her own sense of “strictness,” her attempts to control, repress, and suppress her pain and anxiety. The implication was that such strategies are of limited usefulness for Margaret; there is only so much that control, repression, and suppression can do in the face of chronic pain and heart arrhythmias.

When given permission to change if it so desired, Margaret’s candle became one of several thicker, lit, red candles in an Advent wreath, throwing off warm light and a sense of relaxation and comfort.  The wreath itself gave off a strong smell of pine and aromatic spices which added to a sense of pleasure and peace. The transformed candle not only scored itself highly in core qualities associated with enlightenment; it also was very confident that if Margaret would only feel like it did that her physical problems would go away.

This is quite a claim. In IDL we don’t take any such claims at face value. They have to be tested. In this case, the test is to have Margaret score herself zero to ten in anxiety every half hour. If she is “four” or above, that is a cue to imagine that she is the transformed candle burning in the Advent wreath. She is to set her mobile phone’s timer to go off with a distinctive tone every half hour to remind her to check her anxiety level. When this becomes habitual she no longer will have to use it, but at the beginning the problem is that quite some time may go by before Margaret “wakes up” and realizes that she is anxious. So the timer is a way to help Margaret to learn to not only wake up out of her anxiety but to substitute an alternative state of consciousness that claims to be a natural antidote for it.

Notice that at the end of the interview that this plan seemed to be a good one to both the candle and Margaret. As magical as IDL may seem, it is grounded in practical suggestions that you can use to demonstrate to yourself that you can indeed access sources of powerful healing within yourself.

Here is Margaret’s interview:

What are three fundamental life issues that you are dealing with now in your life?

 What can I do about my muscle tension in my back as a defense against my lumbar back pain – I have a slipped disk.

 I have heart arrhythmia.  I have gone to a cardiologist.

 My work – I have my private practice; I could also work for an herbal pharmaceutical maker, but I am afraid of getting over-stressed and overcommitting myself. 

Which issue brings up the strongest feelings for you?

Heart rhythm

What feelings does this issue bring up for you? 

Anxiety; I’m afraid. I am uncomfortable….

If those feelings had a color (or colors), what would it be?

Red

 Imagine that color filling the space in front of you so that it has depth, height, width, and aliveness.  

Now watch that color swirl, congeal, and condense into a shape. Don’t make it take a shape, just watch it and say the first thing that you see or that comes to your mind: An animal? Object? Plant? What? 

A candle!

Now remember how as a child you liked to pretend you were a teacher or a doctor?  It’s easy and fun for you to imagine that you are the shape that took form from your color and answer some questions I ask, saying the first thing that comes to your mind.  If you wait too long to answer, that’s not the character answering – that’s YOU trying to figure out the right thing to say!

Candle, look out at the world from your perspective. What do you see? 

I am in a white room, alone. I am not lit now. I only was burning for a short time. No wax has run down my sides. I am wax, but very dry. Brittle.  

Candle, what are you like? What you are doing?

I am on the tile floor.  It’s terrible here! It’s sterile! It’s lonely and without life! 

Candle, what do you like most about yourself? What are your strengths?

That I can bring light when I am lit, but at the moment I have no fire! 

What do you dislike most about yourself? Do you have weaknesses?  What are they?

I’m so dry!

Candle, you are in Margaret’s life experience, correct?  She created you, right? What aspect of Margaret do you represent or most closely personify?

Strictness! It’s strictness against myself.  

Candle, if you could be anywhere you wanted to be and take any form you desired, would you change?  If so, how?

I would like to be lit; I want to burn. I want to be thicker, with wax running down me. I want to stand with other candles on an Advent wreath, Then I’m not so dry; I’m soft and smooth. It’s warm, shining, comfortable, with beautiful smells….

What do you think about how you were before?

There wasn’t life before. 

(Continue, answering as the transformed object, if it chose to change.)

Transformed Candle, how would you score yourself 0-10, in each of the following six qualities:  confidence, compassion, wisdom, acceptance, inner peace, and witnessing?  Why?

Confidence:   9 It feels so good! It’s the right place; it’s wonderful!

Compassion:   9  I feel a lot of compassion. I’m so happy inside!

Wisdom: 10 It’s exactly the right place for me! It’s very calm, relaxed, happy…

Acceptance: 10 I can accept the previous candle – but it doesn’t feel so good.  From one point of view it’s also OK. 

Inner Peace: 10 It feels so good to have this light, the warmth, the smells…everything is alright! 

Witnessing:   9 It’s very easy to witness.           

When does Margaret feel the way that the unlit, lonely candle is?

When she’s afraid.

Why?

She doesn’t know what she can do. It’s as if she is frozen. 

What causes Margaret to forget about you?

When the pain is there or her heart is out of rhythm or she feels alone with it all. She doesn’t stand with me. She gets frozen, like the first candle. Every time it’s like a shock. She gets shocked 

How much fear does it take for Margaret to forget about you, 0 – 10?

Five or six. It’s not necessary that she forgets me. She can stay connected with me! 

What can she do to stay connected with you?

Some deep breaths! She knows that I’m there but she can’t feel me! 

When Barbara feels really anxious, where are you, lit candle?

It feels as if she moves. She leaves the room where I am with the Advent wreath and goes into the room with no one and a rigid, unlit candle. 

What do you think about that, lit candle?

It’s a bad idea! The pain comes and goes; the heart’s rhythm comes and goes; it is not a drama until she gets scared and she forgets about being me. It takes a while for her to stop being the dry, unlit candle and becomes me again. She goes there because it’s an old pattern. 

She scares herself and allows her fear to take her away from me and the good feelings I bring. 

How would Margaret’s life be different if she naturally scored like you do in all six of these qualities all the time?

She would be more calm, relaxed. 

If you could live Margaret’s life for her, how would you live it differently?

Her life would be less jagged and choppy and have much more flow and lightness. She wouldn’t be tense! There would be no backpain! There would be no wrong heart rhythm!

You think they would go away if she were not tense?

Yes!

You think the tension would go away if she remembered to be you?

Yes!

If you could live Margaret’s waking life for her today, would you handle Margaret’s three life issues differently?  If so, how?

She needs to go swimming in warm water regularly! At least once a week! 

Remember me when she feels scared! 

She needs to walk for half an hour every day. It helps her to find her right rhythm! It’s important not to go with walking sticks, but just to walk! Keep things simple, like I am! 

I would stand where I am and see what comes. If I like it, I do it; if I don’t like it, I don’t do it. 

What three life issues would you focus on if you were in charge of Margaret’slife?

1. Focus on being and feeling comfortable! 

In what life situations would it be most beneficial for Margaret to imagine that she is you and act as you would? 

When she feels tense or anxious!

What if Margaret asks herself every half an hour how tense/afraid she is 0 – 10? If she is over 4, then to become you?

I think it’s very important! She doesn’t realize when she gets tense! 

Candle, do you do drama?  If not, why not?

No! Why should I?

What is your secret for staying out of drama?

To be myself!  

Candle, you are imaginary. Why should Margaret pay attention to anything you say?

I can give to her what she wants! 

Why do you think that you are in Margaret’s life? 

It’s just before Christmas! It’s the right time of year for a candle!  I bring light in the darkness of winter! 

How is Margaret most likely to ignore what you are saying to her?

To forget to ask herself how she scores, zero to ten in how anxious or afraid or tense she is!  

What would you recommend that she do about that?

She needs to remember!

What if she set the timer on her mobile phone to go off every thirty minutes with a unique ring to remind her to ask herself how she scores zero to ten? 

It’s a very good idea! With a special sound! 

Thank you,  Candle, And now  a question for Margaret:

If this experience were a wake-up call from your inner compass, what do you think it would be saying to you?

Shine! It will make me relaxed and calm.  Then the tension, pain, and heart irregularity will decrease. 

Notice that Margaret was also encouraged to swim at least once a week in warm water and to take a walk every day for at least half an hour. These are simple recommendations that can’t hurt. Becoming a candle in an Advent wreath can’t hurt! While none of this may seem as if it will work, IDL asks you to suspend your disbelief and trust yourself. There is no problem in your life that you cannot make better by accessing your inner compass and following its recommendations. And it’s fun!